Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Major League Baseball has not yet made an economic proposal to the Players' Association regarding the 2020 season -- and when it does, it won't necessarily be the revenue-sharing plan that the union considers a non-starter, according to people with direct knowledge of the process.
Perhaps agreeing to an across-the-board pay cut with no revenue sharing component will help the union salvage the appearance of compromise out of an increasingly challenging negotiation.
Here's the upshot for readers uninterested in venturing into the weeds of this debate: The overall industry expectation remains that the sides will reach an agreement that involves a pay cut for players.
At this point, MLB has effectively framed the debate in public to create increased pressure on players to accept a cut beyond prorated salaries. While players rightly assert that they and their families will assume the health risks of a resumed season, their claim that the owners agreed to the pro-rata position appears to be crumbling under scrutiny.
The source of this dispute is language in the MLB/MLBPA agreement on March 26 that the sides read differently. Privately, many agents and club executives alike have been saying all along that further pay cuts are an obvious component to playing the season.
The entire time that this debate has raged in public, many officials around the game have known about an email uncovered Tuesday by the New York Post.
In the March 26 email, MLB senior VP of labor relations and deputy general counsel Patrick Houlihan summarized to deputy commissioner Dan Halem a conversation with PA deputy general counsel Matt Nussbaum and director of analytics and baseball operations Greg Dreyfuss.
"Matt asked what 'economic feasibility' meant in Section I. I told him it meant that we would only consider playing in neutral sites or without fans if it worked for us economically. I reminded him of Rob [Manfred]'s comments at the outset that playing in empty stadiums did not work for us economically. But I said, for example, that we might be willing to have a conversation about playing some limited number of games in empty stadiums if players agreed to reduce their daily salaries for those games, and if it was part of a larger plan that made economic sense. Matt confirmed that that is what he thought we meant, but appreciated the confirmation."
The publication of that email is one of many signs that negotiations are contentious.
The league does not want to make a proposal that the PA will reject out of hand. The next few days will likely tell whether the union moves off its firm position involving pay cuts. If that happens, the sides can move towards a compromise and an agreement.